If at first you don't succeed... - Handmade in the Heartland

If at first you don't succeed...

There is only one thing that makes me happier than making dessert, and that would be making a really gorgeous dessert. So it's no surprise that i would want to pretend to be a pastry chef and try my hand at French Macarons. If they have a recipe for it how hard can it really be? HA!

My first attempt was last June when i was throwing a shower for my friend Kim, i thought i was going to be so prepared so i decided to make everything the night before. Well good thing i did, because that evening turned out to be a complete disaster, the macarons looked like pepto vomit and because i was so upset about the cookies i forgot about my cheesecake and cooked it 40 minutes longer than supposed to! After that attempt i realized my mistake, the fact that the ingredients called for ground almonds, and my by hand attempt at grinding them turned out to be more like chopped and well that is not what these very particular cookies called for. So basically i gave up.

Then one day last week i was in bloom bakery at the city market and there they were, the most adorable colorful little cookies just calling out to me. Of course i bought a pistachio flavored delight and ate it immediately but from that point on i could not stop thinking about those cute little confections. I had to try it again. SO, i prepared- i watched THIS youtube video and read several articles and i thought by george i'm ready! so yesterday evening after buying blanched almonds and grinding them in my food processor i confidently started following the instructions in my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I started to realize that something might be amiss when after mixing the dry ingredients into the wet my "dough" turned into liquid form, and then when i put it into the pastry bag it came flowing out so quickly that i had to stop it with my finger once enough was dispensed for each cookie. I put them in the oven in hope that everything would turn out alright, and to my utter dismay they looked like flat little spots of paint. So disappointed i spent the evening thinking of the things i had done wrong and came the conclusion that i needed a real almond flour, instead of trying to make my own.

So this morning i set out to HyVee, after calling last night and learning that they indeed carried THIS almond flour. However i was a bit puzzled because when i picked up the bag of flour it looked exactly like my processed blached almonds. However, not wanting any room for error i bout the $12 almond flour and came home. It finally hit me that if the flour wasn't the incorrect thing last night it had to be in the technique. The tricky thing about these cookies is that the first step is to whisk the egg whites and sugar into a meringue and finally this afternoon i did it correctly and let it whisk away for about 20 minutes, until the peaks were firm. I don't think i have ever been so elated looking into my oven and seeing something look the way it is supposed to. i can hardly contain myself. I guess i'm just glad that the book club girls are coming over tonight to share in my success! yay :)

click HERE to go to the Martha recipe i used for these little beauties. Oh and one other tip i learned online that the recipe doesn't say to do- after you squeeze out the cookies on the pans, let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours- this helps create the "foot" at the base of the cookie.

Step 1 beat the egg whites until foamy:
Then add in the sugar and beat. in this pictures it's not quite done, it needs to hold stiff peaks
this was yesterday's attempt, as you can see the circles are super runny.
and then when they baked they looked like little weird pancakes
Then today it finally worked! the dough was much stiffer
and they baked perfectly!! just like all the photos online
the final finished product:
I also made madelines. i'm in a french dessert mood if you couldn't tell. i used a martha recipe and they were delish!

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